We all have 24 hours in a day, so how is it that some people seem to have the time to do the things that are important to them, never seem rushed, frazzled and exhausted and when they are with you they are very ‘present’.
Yet others rush through their days, not really living in the present as their focus is not what they are doing right now, but on the next thing. Thus, they are in fact skimming through life, not really engaged with their daily activities and often too busy to be really present and engaged with the people they are with.
The idea of being ‘engaged in life’ is one of the five pillars of life satisfaction as cited by Dr Martin Seligman in his theory of positive psychology (Flourish, 2012).
And to be fully engaged we must be “physically energised, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest” (Loehr & Schwartz, 2005).
Loehr & Schwartz in their book The Power of Full Engagement explain that “every single one of our thoughts, emotions and behaviours has an energy consequence, for better or for worse.
We may have toxic work environments, difficult relationships and in some cases real life crises but we have far more control over our energy than we realise.
The number of hours in a day is fixed but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not.
The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become. The more we blame others or external circumstances, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be.”
Listen Here to Mary & David talk about maximising our energy and being fully engaged in our lives
Loehr & Schwartz outline 4 principles to maximise our energy and be fully engaged in our lives.
Principle 1: “Full engagement requires drawing on 4 separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.”
We may be doing all the right things in the sense of eating well and exercising to optimise our physical energy, but if we are experiencing prolonged mental stress and in a negative emotional state then this will affect our physical energy and level of vitality and engagement.
Principle 2: “ Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal”
To live with optimal energy and vitality we must learn how to ‘rhythmically spend and renew energy’. As we age our capacity to replete energy reserves decreases, and we so often take it for granted that the energy available to us is limitless.
If we live “highly linear lives” that is, if we are using more energy than we recover or conversely recovering more energy than using, then the eventual consequence is ‘burn out, atrophy, lose our passion, or get sick.
However if we recognise and work on building capacity in all dimensions, we can optimise our physical and mental energy and deepen our emotional and spiritual capacity.
Those living the richest, purposeful and most meaningful lives have mastered the ability to fully engage in the task at hand, but to also disengage periodically and seek renewal.
Most of us however, are living our lives ‘as if we are running an endless marathon, pushing ourselves far beyond healthy levels of exertion.
We become exhausted mentally and emotionally by relentlessly expending energy without sufficient recovery. Or we become “flat liners physically and spiritually by not expending enough energy.
Either way we lose our vitality and capacity to live an engaged and purposeful life.
Priniciple 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits.
Think of an athlete who builds strength, speed and muscle by training. They are in effect “stressing” the muscle by expending energy beyond normal levels. And at the end of the training session, the functional capacity of the muscle is diminished but with recovery of a day or two it actually grows stronger and better able to meet the next challenge.
Similarly, stress is not the enemy in our lives, it is actually the key to growth. ‘We grow at all levels by expending energy beyond our ordinary limits and then recovering’. ‘The training phenomenon is just as relevant in building “muscles” in all areas of our lives, from empathy and patience, to listening to focus and creativity, to integrity and commitment’.
“We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity. Any form of stress that prompts discomfort has the potential to expand our capacity -physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually – so long as it is followed by adequate recovery.”
Principle 4: Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing energy – are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance
Because we are mostly creatures of habit, change is difficult because what we do is automatic and nonconscious.
And the challenge is when we want to create a new habit it relies on willpower and conscious thought which is finite. Many who have taken out a gym membership will be able to relate to this as they are eager and motivated initially to go and workout but find that they drop off over time as life gets in the way.
If you have to think about something each time you do it, it is likely you won’t keep doing it for very long.
The key to sustaining positive change is to purposefully create and incorporate rituals into your daily lives.
“ A positive ritual is a behaviour that becomes automatic over time – fuelled by some deeply held value”.
If you are fit, for example, it is probably because you have regular days and times for working out. If you eat in a healthy way, it is probably because you have built healthy routines around the food you buy and choices you make at cafes and restaurants. These choices, routines and rituals are aligned to the value you place on health and you do it largely on autopilot, without much conscious effort or intention.
This in effect leaves that finite resource of willpower and conscious thought available to use in creative and enriching ways.
Creating positive daily rituals is a powerful means to effectively manage energy. It is the secret that lies at the heart of the change process that is critical to living our best lives.
Lives full of vitality, meaning and purpose. Lives that matter.
Join us for a Free Information Session
Certified Wellness Coaches and Busting Barriers Facilitators, Mary & David Petherick, will be hosting a Free Information Session where everyone is welcome to find out more about our 6 week Group Coaching program and the Secret of how you can Live Your Best Life.
Thursday 18th October 6pm-7pm
Highton Village Shopping Centre
Shop 2, 89A Barrabool Rd
There are 2 easy ways to register, we look forward to seeing you there.
Mammoth Health: 5243 9084
NB There are limited places so be quick to secure your seat
Click here for more information on Tony Schwartz’s, The Energy Project
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